Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Haggard listed as a top Pentacostal

The Rev. Ted Haggard, senior pastor for the 14,000-member New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, was listed by the online faith information clearinghouse Beliefnet as part of a "Who's Who in Pentacostalism," pegged to the movement's 100th anniversary.

OK, so it's maybe not too surprising. The 49-year-old pastor was listed last year as one of the evangelical movement's top 25 most influential figures, so the fact that he'd land on a list of the top 15 Pentacostal leaders -- a list taken from a smaller pool -- may be a little anticlimactic. And it's important to note that the author of the piece -- Patton Dodd -- has known Haggard for years and is a New Life employee.

Still, appearing on the list reminds us that Haggard is a died-in-the-wool charismatic Christian, one who believes in prophetic visions, holy warfare and speaking in tongues. Yet he's also become a booming voice of mainstream evangelicalism, representing some folks who might look at some of Haggard's beliefs as -- well, a wee bit out there.

Haggard's a pretty fascinating figure in religion today precisely for this reason: His ability to be both extreme and mainstream at the same time. He's been able to transform charismatic New Life into the city's biggest spiritual tent -- a multidenominational stew that somehow stays true to its charismatic ways.

It'll be interesting to see what the next couple of years hold for Haggard and, perhaps, New Life. His star, many say, is still rising.


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